O-1 Visa Requirements

October 15, 2021 by Piotr Messerszmidt

o-1 visa requirements

The O-1A requirements listed on USCIS website sound scary and impossible to get. Many clients think that this category is only reserved for celebrities and Nobel prize winners. Let’s translate the theory into what it is in practice:

Let’s get started with the translation of the requirements. Below you can see what USCIS asks us to provide:

1. Documentation of the alien’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

2. Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;

3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;

4. Evidence of the alien’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;

5. Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;

6. Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;

7. Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;

8. Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Explanation of the USCIS requirements

Now let’s translate into normal language:

1. Documentation of the alien’s receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

As the regulations do not define what “award or prize” are, we can be very creative here. Examples of qualifying evidence may include any professional awards you got in your field, even if you did not get any cash prize. For technology entrepreneurs we can also use the funding that you raised for your company.

We want to present you as an expert that is why we avoid using student awards, unless they are really prestigious.

2. Documentation of the alien’s membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts in their disciplines or fields;

Any membership in a renowned organization where members are selected or invited on qualification-basis may help. The submitted evidence should establish that your outstanding significant achievements in the field of business are the basis for this membership in the association. It is not sufficient for this criterion if the membership is solely based on education level or professional specialization.

An admission into a reputable incubator or accelerator (such as Y Combinator, Techstars, 500 Startups, Plug and Play, Angel Pad) may be positioned as a qualifying membership, provided that there is strong evidence that the admission criteria are highly rigid and require superb achievements of the company’s founders/leaders.

Important: the organization that you join needs to be in your field of expertise, it happens O-1 applicants have a vast experience in different fields, thus if you have not joined any organizations yet, don’t join them blindly, first the strategy for your case should be set, so we know how we will present you to the USCIS to impress them the most. Then the evidence should be gathered around it. This is one of the easiest factors to be created if you are in the process of your case development. However, it might be also expensive, as some of the organizations have paid entries. Thus, it’s important for us to review the organizations before you join so we can save your time and money.

uscis requirements

3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien, relating to the alien’s work in the field for which classification is sought, which shall include the title, date, and author of such published material, and any necessary translation;

Here we can use articles that were written about you and your projects.

Example of qualifying article:
– Feature articles either online or in papaer that talk about you and your achievements

Articles we avoid using in the petition:
– Self published articles – for example on Medium.com
– Blog posts
– Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn publications

Important: We need quality articles here. It is not enough that your name was mentioned in the article. We also recommend having at least 3-4 articles that we can use in our case. It is fine as well to have a combination of articles, for example a few articles that talk about your company and mention your name, and a few that talk about you at least in one full paragraph. This factor is also quite easy to develop.

4. Evidence of the alien’s participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in an allied field of specialization to that for which classification is sought;

Example of qualifying event:
– judging events/hackathons where we can present evidence that you were judging the work of other professionals and that you were part of the board together with other experts
– reviewer of scholarly articles

Judging events we avoid using in the petition:
– Review the work of your colleagues at the company where you work/worked
– Being invited to judge the work of students

Important: the events for judging that you join need to be in your field of expertise, so again, if you have not served as a judge yet, it’s important to set the strategy for your case, and then review the events that you want to join so we do not waste your time.

5. Evidence of the alien’s original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field;

This part is mostly based on the research made by us. It can be supported by the following evidence:

Example of qualifying evidence:

– Patents
– Letters of confirmation/recommendation from experts in your field
– Articles about the you and your product

6. Evidence of the alien’s authorship of scholarly articles in the field, in professional journals, or other major media;

Example of qualifying evidence:

– Scholarly articles that you have published
– On-line articles on business or other professional websites

Important: Many founders write and publish their own artiles/books. If these articles are published in prestigious publications we still can use them as qualifying evidence in this section.

7. Evidence that the alien has been employed in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;

This is very important to highlight that in this factor we need to prove that the applicant was working in the critical/essential role for the organization, but also that the company that the applicant worked for has a distinguished reputation.

This factor can be supported by the following evidence:

– Letters confirming his achievements in the previous/current employer
– Articles about the applicant and his work for the company

Importantly, the size or longevity of the company is not always a determining factor. We need to show that the organization where you had a lead role has eminence, distinction, or excellence. As such, even your work for a startup can be used here, as long as we can show that this company has accomplishments that set it apart from other startups, for example impressive funding.

8. Evidence that the alien has either commanded a high salary or will command a high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Here we need to show that your salary for the particular position puts you in the top 10% of the best paid professionals. Evidence that can support this criterion:

– Paystubs
– Tax returns
– Your employment contract
– Reports confirming that the salary is in the top 10%

Important: The salary is compared to a salary in the place where you worked, for example if you received a salary in Israel, it will be compared to a high salary in Israel, not in the US. We usually use government sources, and private websites, such as Payscale.com or Glassdoor.

o 1 work visa

A majority of people who want to relocate to the US do not know that they can qualify for the O-1 visa. Why?

When you start looking for a visa which will allow you to work in the United States, the typical answer is usually H1B. However, it has many disadvantages like a lottery, limited extensions, inflexible dates, and salary requirements. As a result, many talented people give up their dreams of an amazing career in the United States.

They do not usually know that there is another option – O-1 visa. Many U.S. attorneys will not recommend this path, as it is usually a very demanding petion (600 pages) which requires persuasive writing, understanding of technology and good focus on the client’s achievements.

Our team at PassRight decided to end H-1B visa dominance and show that O-1 is sometimes the better option to work and live in the United States. This is why we call ourselves the “O-1 Visa Company”.

What is in reality the O-1A visa and who can get it?

In my opinion an O-1A visa is a visa for experts. As long as we can prove that you are an expert in your field we can take this path.

Let us be honest here. While there is no limitation to the field, not every worker will qualify for this category. It would be hard to get an O-1 visa if you work, for example as an analyst in a big corporation and it is hard to prove that your role is critical for the organization. In such cases, with regular positions it is probably better to explore options like H1B, or OPT if you studied before in the United States., and plan the strategy for the future in terms of career direction and on the type of evidence that could be created in the course of time for both O-1A and a Green Card.

FAQ

  • What is form I-129 used for?

    Form I-129 is used to obtain a nonimmigrant visa to work in the United States. It can be used to apply for visa categories such as E, H, and L.
  • How does an O-1 visa work?

    An O-1 visa is a temporary work visa designed for foreigners with:
    “Extraordinary abilities” in the field of science, education, business, sports.
    “Outstanding excellence” in the arts.
    Very high achievements in the filmmaking or television industry.
  • How long does it take to get an O-1 visa?

    The O-1 visa has a relatively shorter processing time than other visas. Most often, it is completed within two or three months if there are no shortcomings or omissions in your application.
  • What happens if my I-129 petition is denied?

    If the I-129 petition is denied, your hirer can appeal the denial. This is possible within 30 calendar days (including weekends) from the date you received the refusal.

Read also:

O-1 visa or a Green Card through extraordinary achievements – which one should I choose?